The New York Giants are likely expecting a quick increase in quality from Andrew Thomas this season, after drafting the second year left tackle number four overall in 2020. The Giants bet on Thomas as the safest option out of a number of offensive line prospects, and were paid back with up and down results throughout the season as Thomas was initially considered a bust by many before starting to raise his play.
But to keep up with some of the other members of the same draft class, and justify the Giants taking him in the top five, Thomas will have to take a further step forward in 2021. What are the odds of that happening? Well, ESPN is confident enough in Thomas improving to list him with 15 second year breakout prospects.
Thomas came in at number 11, and as the second tackle to appear on the list.
11. Andrew Thomas, OT, New York Giants
Pick in 2020 draft: No. 4
It was a tale of two seasons for Thomas, whose head was spinning after the first few weeks of his rookie campaign. Only one tackle recorded a worse pass-blocking grade through Week 7 than Thomas, who sat at an abysmal 45.3 mark. He allowed pressure at 14% clip in those seven games — 3.5 percentage points worse than anyone else at the position.
Criticism abounded, but Thomas stuck with it and put together a solid second half of the season. His 63.5 pass-block grade from Week 8 on was a huge upgrade and showed that he could succeed at the NFL level. He cut his pressure rate by more than half, dropping all the way to 6.1%. There’s reason to believe he can continue down that path and make another solid jump in 2021.
Rating Thomas’ chance of improvement this season
There looks to be a good chance that Thomas improves this year. While it wasn’t mentioned in the ESPN article, one major problem last season was an ankle injury. This only became news during the offseason as we found out in January that Thomas underwent ankle surgery.
Given that, and how Thomas was quickly thrust into the fire against high level pass rushers, and how the offensive line coach position was quite unstable for the Giants last season, it’s not hard to see why Thomas struggled.
Much of the Giants fanbase will still have bad memories fresh in their minds from the franchise drafting Ereck Flowers highly before moving on from the player as a bust. But with Thomas, it’s easier to point to clear reasons why the start of his rookie season wasn’t successful.
As those reasons don’t seem to be particularly long term or attitude related, there’s reason for optimism. As the Giants head into Thomas’ second season with him largely undisputed as a starting tackle, that’s likely what the coaching staff is also betting on.